Lighting Set-up #3 Catwoman location shoot.

This shoot was great fun and a bit of a lighting challenge. We shot in the stair well in the back of a nightclub and then on the roof of a multi story car park just after sun down. Click through for a run down on how I lit the shots including lighting diagrams and what kit I used...

The Challenge with this shot  was to get the balance of light right between the skyline and the foreground where the model was. Added to that, it was freezing cold and quite exposed on that roof top so we had to work quick and bag the shot early.

On the roof.

My approach was to expose for the skyline, whack a couple of strobes up on a medium setting (1/8th power) and then adjust these to taste until I had the look that I wanted. I then used the shutter speed to fine tune this balance as we where shooting, that ambient light was fading fast!

By taking the shutter speed down from 160th I could let in more ambient light whilst keeping the foreground flash exposure constant. Quick, easy and the best part is you don't have to leave the camera and start faffing with lights mid shoot.

I find this way of working very quick and intuitive as appose to juggling ratios and numbers on a light meter. As the great David Hobby points out on his lighting blog,  it doesn't take long for you to develop what often feels like a sixth sense for what power your flash needs to be in a given situation.

I do use a flash meter occasionally, but usually just to get a base exposure as a starting point...

As you can see from the lighting diagram , I used quite a simple set up for this. The key light was a flash gun with home made snoot high up on a stand (about 6 ft)

This really helped illuminate the model, whilst keeping the rest of the scene fairly dark and shadowy.

I didn't want it too dark around the model though and I didn't want the spot light to be too obvious. So I put another flash, camera left behind the model, bare bulb.

This did two things, gave me the extra light I needed in those shadows and also a bit of edge lighting down the models right side.

There where a few halogens on the wall behind me but they where pretty much over powered by the flash guns.

If you look on the floor around the model you can see one shadow coming forwards and to the right - from the 2nd flash, another extending backwards - from the key light, and then a third, smaller, pale blue shadow also extending backwards - this was created by the halogens.

The exposure I took this shot at was  ISO 800 / f4 / 50th sec. Whilst the high ISO was less than ideal, on my camera the noise at this level is just about acceptable to me.

In the stairwell...

When we arrived at the stairwell I instantly loved the light from the  lamp hanging on the landing but could tell that it would be nowhere near bright enough to give me a decent exposure.

The solution? Clamp an Sb28 to the ceiling just behind the lamp, mimicking the style of lighting whilst also ramping it up a bit.

I also wanted to keep the model well lit from the front but without loosing that rich triangle of light. So I put a second flash on the landing above pointing strait down at the models face and used a grid spot to keep the light contained to a small area.

And that's it!

The light behind the lamp was set to 1/8th power and the second flash 1/2 power. This gave me an exposure of   ISO 200 / f4.5 / 160th.

 Hope you enjoyed this post, any comments welcome bellow. You can see more from this shoot an my website -

Kit list

Canon 500D
24-105 F4 lens
2 x SB28 flash guns
2 x tungsten gels
1 x home made grid spot
2 x Light stands
1 x spring clamp with hotshoe mount
Elinchrom skyport radio triggers

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